James Van Way is office manager at 51 Oil and a radio host and producer at KRVS, where he hosts the shows Out on the Fringe, The Flipside, and Ghost Towne, his eclectic musical taste serving him well. He is also a mixed-media artist and recording artist with the band Plush Claw, alongside Christiaan Mader and Greg Travasos.
Both him and his wife, Kelly Russo are always finding ways to be creative, the latest of which is their joint project, the very cute nearly 9-month-old Ella Cricket.
James is always finding new ways to combine disciplines, creating collages both in art and music. You can find his weird sound collage project (his description) at jazzunderthearches.bandcamp.com and listen to Plush Claw at plushclaw.bandcamp.com. All the art you see is by James. He is planning a show at the Acadiana Center for the Arts next March. Yes, he really does it all, and he’s good at it — he sees the world slightly differently and we are lucky that he shares that with us. You’ll see what I mean when you read his answers.
What was your first job? Dressing up like a Power Ranger for one of those car show things they have at Cajun Field.
Describe a typical day in your life. Wake up, probably change a diaper. Give my wife a kiss. Listen to my kid say, “hey” like 100 times. Feed cats. Try to drink coffee and watch the weather. Go to my office. Feed another cat. Do what's asked of me at work and try really had not to forget anything. Leave my office. Some days, it's off to KRVS. Thereafter, I get home and maybe eat and try to be creative or read or watch some manner of sporting event.
What advice would you give the younger you? “Get over yourself. You’re amassing quite a collection of terribly embarrassing memories that I now have to live with.”
What event in your life most shaped who you are now? There are many. In the recent sense of course, having a child. But also committing myself to my wife and the fact that it forced me to stop acting like an animal. Other than that, I dunno. Hearing Black Flag for the first time maybe.
What values do you live by? Don’t hurt other people or things. Keep your head down. Try not to worry.
What do you most appreciate? That’s hard to answer, but I will say I am very grateful to have had the opportunity, space and encouragement to indulge my creative side. But I’m lucky for many reasons and I try not to let myself forget it.
What is your favorite journey? In the literal sense, I am a homebody. But I do like the band Journey well enough.
Where is your favorite place to be alone? Being alone is often my preferred mode of existence so … Anywhere is fine as long as I have my health and the assurance that my wife and child and animals are safe wherever they might be in that instance.
What was the best advice you were ever given? “There's nothing you did there that you couldn’t do again in 5 minutes,” spoken by the great Allan Jones, who recently passed away. And though that particular saying might be kinda vague out of context, what he meant was that a good artist should never be afraid to ruin something.
What book would you tell everyone to read? I’m not a big “suggester” because my tastes are pretty weird. I’d say just read. It’ll probably make you feel better. If forced to answer, I’d say "The Stranger" by Albert Camus.
How do you "let the good times roll"? There's this joke about me that I “hate having fun,” which is not 100% true. But I’ll say that I’m not very social, and the first thing that springs to mind when reading this question is me on a couch with some cats piled on top of me while I watch "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes for the 50 millionth time.
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was about 5 or 6, my aunt asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her “Like a superhero. Spiderman or something like that.” Then she really let me have it. So maybe this answer should be up there in the “event that shaped your life” section.
What is your motto? “You should probably make sure your hair doesn’t look stupid right now."
How would you like to be remembered? As a total beefcake.
What do you say to yourself when you doubt yourself? I live in constant self-doubt. It's what fuels me. I don’t see it as a negative thing. Or it is, but I just love negativity.
What three things are vital to BEing YOU? 1. Music; 2. Action figures; 3. People and creatures that put up with me.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Uhhh.”
What do you collect? Just about everything, but most notably: Toys, Records, CD’s, Tapes, Movies, Books, Keyboards, Trash, Cats.
What would you change about yourself? I think that’s kind of an all or nothing deal. But right now I am trying to quit smoking, so wish me luck.
What literary, movie or cartoon character do you most identify with? Bruce Wayne because we’re basically the same person: Super handsome, mega rich, very smart, experts in martial arts and detective work plus a weird thing for clowns.
Describe yourself in five words. “I just love crime shows!” or “Kelly I’m not eating that.”
What is your idea of happiness? Time and space and the right frame of mind to make things I’m satisfied with. Knowing the people and creatures I love are safe and secure.
What is your favorite movie? ‘Last Year at Marienbad.’
What music defines who you are? Scott Walker’s ‘Tilt’ & ‘The Drift’
Who is your style icon? Oscar the Grouch.
What do you most regret? Regrets for me are like self-doubt. I try to make something out of it.
What question do you wish I'd asked? Are you good at crosswords?
What would the answer be? Not really.